2/24 - Ray Liotta Was Irish?
Check out this pic and tell me you don't see a little Liotta on the left. Don't know about you, but I'm tired of ND being the goodfella and maybe, just maybe, there's a mentality change going on. Notre Dame is staring at its third straight NIT invite, yet somehow I feel good about his team, much better than last year. Last year, IMO, was one of worst in recent Notre Dame memory. The team was not only inconsistent, but played with no heart, no toughness, no personality and seemingly at times, no coaching.
But, I thought Notre Dame played an excellent game against UConn. We took it to the hole fearlessly despite block after block and that opened up good looks for our sharpshooters. When you're aggressive you tend to get the bounces, when you're playing backwards, you don't. Colin Falls, Russell Carter and Chris Quinn we're all creating, rather than just chuckin' the ball "around the horn" waiting for a crack to jack a three-ball. All teams did in the past was extend the perimeter and double underneath leaving Notre Dame impotent and downright laughable at times.
But Notre Dame didn't make it's run against UConn only on the back of its offense, it did it behind a suffocating defense that denied, contested and harrassed. During a 25-2 run, Notre Dame played its best defense in recent memory in absolutely shutting down one of the best teams in the country.
Yeah, we lost again in a close one. But this one was not like the others. In Storrs we saw a glimpse of the Notre Dame team many thought we should have seen all year long with RuC and RiC playing extended minutes, creating mayhem and the Irish actually looking like the more athletic team at times by dictating the flow of the game.
When you're dictating the flow, you look more athletic.
Which of course begs (which really means avoid, btw) the question: What the hell took so long?
It's obvious that Notre Dame's woes can't be blamed on a complete lack of talent. As Charlie said when he came in, a team takes on the personality of its coach, yet too often, Brey seems content to let his players control the personality of the team. Maybe it's a subtle difference, but it's profound, IMO.
Charlie has the confidence in the other Quinn to make the play when necessary, but Brey seems to put the entire onus his players. I mean, yeah, in a perfect world, you want Chris Quinn taking the final shot, but the world ain't perfect and everyone in that gym and watching on TV expected Chris Quinn to take the final shot, which of course, greatl reduced his probability of making said shot. Meanwhile you've got four other guys in Falls, Carter, Zeller and Kurz who can shoot with accuracy and could have been options on a drive and dish.
“That’s the guy we wanted taking the shot,” Brey said of Quinn. “He made all the plays for us, and he wanted the ball again."
Well, yeah, but if he's going to be covered by three guys doesn't that change things? BTW, the above quote was after the West Virginia loss. So he wanted the ball again, big deal. Newsflash: All players are going to want the ball, it's a coaches responsibility to decide if that's the best option.
Okay, now it looks like I' m nitpicking. I really can't judge a coach on one shot, nor do I blame Brey for that loss, I thought he coached an excellent game. I'm really illustrating a point that has bothered me for awhile about Brey, his tendency to shift responsibility to his players.
When Brey arrived here he entrusted David Graves and Troy Murphy to lead and dictate the character of the team and often times the team looked disinterested and lacking in intensity.
When Chris Thomas emerged as the best player, the team took on Thomas's personality and often looked out of sync and incohesive. I know many players did not like playing with Thomas who was viewed as selfish and out for himself.
Now with Quinn, we have a true competitor, who's intense, but this team has still lacked in intensity over long stretches. So what's up?
The bottom line is that if Brey is going to let his players dictate the personality of the team he has to be 100% positive those players are doing everything "he wants" them to do. Weis entrusts games to the other Quinn, because that Quinn has become Weis on the field. Brady has adopted the personality of Weis, therefore it makes sense for Weis to completely trust him. And ultimately, Weis takes all of the responsibility. Just when you're sure Weis is going to have Quinn throw it, he hits Darius with a quick draw. Weis plays the percentages and rolls when the odds are with him, and, it's true, those odds are "usually" with your key player, but also many times not.
Brey has a philosophy that puts onus on the players, but the ultimate responsibility still falls on Brey himself to demand that the team function at a high level, its highest, every game.
The spurt against UConn was very telling because it showed what Notre Dame is capable of on offense and defense when it adopts the right mindset. Coach K gets Duke to play that way very consistently. Notre Dame seems to coast, as if the season weren't at stake on many plays. What UConn proved is that Notre Dame can reach a higher plane. Too often this team hasn't been pushed to its limits, but rather comfortably under its limits.
The only way for players to find their true limits is to be pushed beyond what they think is possible until they discover an entirely different level of accomplishment and ability.
I just don't think Notre Dame has done that or plays like it, but the UConn game gives me hope and maybe a glimpse of a new mentality. In Storrs, Notre Dame touched the level it needs to play at every game for forty minutes and if it can lock into that mindset, nothing is impossible this year, nothing. We have the talent, we're aged up, we've got a great leader and this team has shown it can get there.
ND needs to rise up and play at that level all the time and Coach Brey, has to make sure his players get to that level, that's his job.
Maybe this is a rant, but I've sensed the same thing over and over and over again. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
Rather than play the good fella, I'd love to see Brey snap and channel a little Tommy Devito, because losing again and again, just ain't funny anymore:
"Let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it's me, I'm a little @#$@#$ up maybe, but I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to @#$@#$' amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?"